Hobart “Hobie” Cawood
In a year with so much talk about the 100th anniversary of our National Park System, Hobie Cawood (E&H ’57) has to be part of the discussion. Hobie is, after all, a bit of a national treasure himself.
Hobie began his career with the National Park Service in 1958 as a park historian for Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, near his childhood home in Middlesboro, Kentucky. He worked as a supervisor and interpreter for a variety of National Parks, but the body of work for which he is probably best known is his stint as Superintendent of Independence National Historic Park (INHP) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He rose to that position in 1971, becoming the champion of the Liberty Bell just a few years before the American Bicentennial. He was in charge during what were arguably the Park’s two biggest celebrations – one for the bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence in 1976 and one for the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution in 1987.
He and his wife, Addie-Lou Wahlert Cawood, were honored in 2012 for their work together to establish the Friends of the Friends of Independence – an organization that raises money for INHP to do projects and programs that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. It was the first “friends” group established to support a National Park, and while it was initially formed to undergird events around the Bicentennial, members and donors continue to work on behalf of the park and together they have raised millions of dollars. In 2012, the Cawoods were given the first ever “Founders’ Award” for their vision and effort in establishing the organization.
Hobie retired from the Park System in 1991 with an array of tales and stories that would rival any world adventurer. A walk through his home is like visiting a museum – with photos of him with U.S. presidents, world leaders, and celebrated artists. He has, in fact, written a book about his storied experiences at INHP called Celebrations: A Personal Memoir Commemorating America’s Bicentennial Era: 1971-1991 (available through Amazon).
The Emory & Henry Sports Hall of Fame football star turned out to be just what was needed by one of the country’s greatest symbols of freedom as millions of visitors would pass by the iconic bell during his tenure. He, in fact, was in charge during the Liberty Bell’s biggest trip since its arrival from London: he had to oversee its move from Independence Hall to a new visitor’s center designed to handle the millions expected during the Bicentennial. The move was controversial at the time as community members didn’t want the bell to leave its long-time location, but Hobie’s administrative savvy and natural charm job got the job done and the Park Service was ready for the onslaught of tourists.
Check out his book for a host of great details and stories. And the next time someone mentions the Liberty Bell you can tell them it was an Emory & Henry grad who championed, promoted, and protected it during its finest anniversary hour.
Football, Senior Class President